Canada will prioritize 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifying over the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup this summer, according to head coach John Herdman.
“The priority is the World Cup qualification,” said Herdman, after his side’s lopsided 11-0 World Cup quailifier win over Cayman Islands Monday. “That, for our country, will change our country for ever.”
World Cup and Gold Cup add up to full summer for Canada
June and July is set to be a busy period for the Canadian men’s soccer team.
First, the men finish off the first round of Concacaf 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifying with two matches against Aruba and Suriname, June 5 and 8. Expecting to advance, they would then likely face either Haiti or Nicaragua in the second round playoff, June 12 and 15, for a spot in the final round of qualifying which begins in September.
And then in July the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup begins, with Canada facing USA, Martinique and one other team, yet to be decided, in the first round.
But while Herdman says he obviously wants to compete well at the Gold Cup, he makes it clear that World Cup qualification is most important.
“We’re aware of that opportunity that sits with this group of men and with this staff,” said Herdman, discussing qualifying for Qatar. “That’s what we committed to when we took this role on, to raise football in this country through World Cup qualification.”
Roster depth important this summer
Herdman believes his roster’s depth will be key going into the summer. But Canadian soccer fans can probably expect him to use his top players for the four June World Cup qualifiers before somewhat supplementing his Gold Cup starting line-ups with a few depth players.
“We have a very laser focus on what’s important to Canada and how we’re going to go about business in the June/July window,” said Herdman Monday. “And I think that’s why you’ve seen the January camp this year (and) the March camp – the way the players were rostered across the Olympics national team.
“You can see we have got good depth here and we should be able to compete on two fronts.”
Herdman to dive deeper tactically with squad in June
Canada’s coach says he’s looking forward to getting more time with his squad this summer, having had such a small period with them this latest international break.
They had roughly only a day and half preparation time for each match this past week. So training was kept to the basics.
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But in June he’s anticipating more time with his squad, especially the European-based players.
“My feeling is I’ll get more time with my European players in the build up, given that they’ll be off-season,” said Herdman Monday. “Hopefully I can get more time. And we can work around tactical plans that clearly fit the game.”